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Illinois Farm Bureau helps plan AFBF’s policy agenda
Illinois Correspondent

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) delegates returning from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., said they were pleased to have put the state’s signature on the AFBF’s new national farm policy.

“A lot of the concepts that we brought forward out of our farm policy task force and delegate debate were imbedded in the final policy,” remarked IFB president Philip Nelson. “Where we ended up at the end of the day, I was very pleased.”

The new AFBF farm policy calls for extending the current farm bill while providing flexibility to adjust the bill based on future trade policy set by the World Trade Organization, a provision the IFB successfully argued for during the meeting’s national farm policy debate.

“If we don’t (allow for adaptability), we’re going to write a farm bill that’s going to be wasted,” said Henry Kallal of Jerseyville, an IFB board member and chairperson for the organization’s farm policy task force. “We might as well be leading the change rather than be litigated to change.”

In a press release issued by the IFB, the bureau summarized many of the key points of agreement established at the AFBF meeting, which included:

•An agreement that should WTO negotiators reach a consensus on the current “Doha” round, the new policy would permit the bureau to seek increased conservation payments and an IFB-recommended system of revenue assurance to provide farmers a safety net in times of low prices and production.

•Updating the AFBF policy to encourage increased domestic production for natural gas and oil, including exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf.

•A call for a nationwide policy focusing on energy independence with a goal of agriculture providing 25 percent of all U.S. energy by 2025.

•Unanimous backing of an IFB call for AFBF to complete a comprehensive study on the national effect of tax exchanges on land prices, the results of which would dictate AFBF policy on 1031 tax exchanges.

•Voting overwhelmingly to increase federal estate tax exemption to $10 million “until permanent repeal can be achieved,” which is the AFBF’s ultimate goal.

•Support for the IFB’s call for a mandatory national animal identification program.

•Calling for reinstatement of policy asking farmers who replant biotech seed to pay a minimal technology fee on saved seed.

During the annual meeting, the IFB’s Nelson, a Seneca grain and livestock producer, was re-elected to a second term on the AFBF Board of Directors, Midwest Region. Bob Stallman, AFBF president from Texas, and Steve Appel, vice president from Washington, were re-elected to two-year terms.

Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.